The U.N. World Tourism Organization reports that international tourist arrivals increased 4% last year, to 980 million worldwide, and should top 1 billion before 2012 comes to a close.

Europe, despite its economic woes, remained a tourism powerhouse, accounting for more than half the global share of arrivals with 503 million, a testament to the way tourism has been integrated into the social fabric and economic policies of most European countries.

Against this backdrop, the Obama administration is rolling out a long-needed initiative to incorporate a tourism strategy into U.S. economic policy.

Now that's a milestone.
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